Readers ask about law of punishment and deferred action

In my column of La Opinión this week I am answering several questions from readers about the proposed changes to the punishment law and the deferred action program for undocumented youth. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Each case is different, so you should consult with an attorney for personalized legal advice.

They only talk about deferred action, but what happened to the new law that would establish a provisional pardon to the punishment law? - Javier L.

There is still no date set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for this new regulation to go into effect. The public scrutiny period has ended. Many comments were submitted for and against the proposal. USCIS continues to evaluate the comments and will publish a final rule. It is not known how much longer that process will take.

It should be emphasized that the new proposal would only cover immediate family members - parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 - of qualifying U.S. citizens.

I am an undocumented young woman and I don't speak English very well. Will I be able to apply for deferred action? - Janet S.

You do not have to speak English perfectly to qualify for the deferred action program. Generally, the program only requires that you be between the ages of 15 and 30. In addition, you must have arrived in the U.S. before your 16th birthday; have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least five years before June 15, 2012 and be currently present in the country; have entered without inspection before June 15, 2012 or your lawful immigration status expired on June 15, 2012; have graduated from or be in high school; be a veteran of the armed forces; and not have committed certain crimes or pose a threat to national security or public safety.

I have little money and I need help to apply for deferred action. Where can I find a list of non-profit organizations authorized to do immigration proceedings? - Miguel M.

By law, only licensed attorneys and representatives accredited by the federal government may give legal advice. You can find a list of nonprofit organizations and individuals accredited to help immigrants by visiting These organizations should be able to help you for free or at a low cost. Make sure that only lawyers or accredited representatives give you legal advice. Do not accept legal advice from the receptionist, secretary, or paralegal.